Patrick Janelle is a well-liked man. Literally. At the time of this interview, his Instagram account has 425k followers and by next week he’ll likely have added another 10k or so more. To be sure, there are social media impresarios with more followers, but Janelle’s is notable because of how he’s built his following. With images from his worldly travels, his favorite meals and dining spots, and editorial-quality portraits, Janelle leads a life that many of us would love to have. And yet, far from pretentious, he’s very much down to earth and his latest ventures, from his monthly supper club, Spring Street Social Society, to his soon to be launched website, theliquorcabinet.com, reflect Janelle’s desire to share more than just images with his followers. Here, Janelle takes a moment to talk about his loves – fashion, travel, and food – and, importantly, explains the difference between a selfie and a portrait.
Joseph Akel: You have made a name for yourself on Instagram, building a business from the platform that, at its core, centers upon your daily life. Was there a moment early on in using Instagram when you realized you could do more with it than just share selfies with friends?
Patrick Janelle: I don't know that I ever had a really specific ‘A-Ha’ moment when I thought Instagram would become something that I could capitalize on. I always felt that, even from the beginning, I was really interested in showing a viewpoint that was my own. And, as my profile developed a following overtime, that led to more and more opportunities.
JA: You won the inaugural CFDA Instagrammer of the Year award in 2014, in part a recognition of your own incredible personal sense of style. What are hallmarks of how you like to dress?
Patrick: While I definitely appreciate smaller fashion trends, I think I'm a little bit more traditional when it comes to certain basics, the ones every guy should have in his closet. That said, I think experimenting with your wardrobe is key.
JA: How so?
PJ: If I find myself uncomfortable with a certain look because I think I'm pushing the envelope, in terms of fashion, then I think that's actually successful. The key, for me, is to find that place which falls somewhere between comfort and edge, effortlessness and polish.
JA: Food, of course, also plays a big role, not only on your Instagram profile, but in your entrepreneurial pursuits as well. If clothes make the man, what does food do?
PJ: I feel like clothes give you a foundation to go out into the world. When you put on a great outfit, you’re projecting a certain persona that you want to share with others. If clothes make the man, food feeds the soul. Just as the attention you pay to your appearance says something about you, so does the food you eat. Because it’s really about the details and it’s about caring about every element of the way that you live life. Not just being on the surface level.
JA: When you're not connecting with others through social media, you are with other outlets, perhaps most notably the Spring Street Social Society, a monthly supper club you co-founded with Amy Virginia Buchanan. What were the origins of the Society and how did your efforts online help with your offline pursuit of it?
PJ: I think it’s important to understand how to live our lives offline as fully as possible. I mean without that, what do you have to share?
The Spring Street Social Society, really first began in the backyard of my apartment in NoLita and was born out of a desire to perform for and entertain my close friends. Like Instagram, it just kind of grew from there and before I knew it, it became something much bigger.
JA: You’re also about to launch e-commerce site The Liquor Cabinet which you founded with your brothers. Tell me a little more about the site.
PJ: I think that people are very aware of conversations surrounding the providence of wine, coffee and the various produce they buy. But there hasn't been that opportunity within the world of spirits and The Liquor Cabinet aims to address that. We want The Liquor Cabinet to be a place where people can find a resource for entertaining in their homes. Just as I want to bring people together online and out in the world, I feel the same when it comes the more intimate spaces they share with others.
JA: OK, now some rapid-fire questions. Which is better, a selfie or a portrait?
PJ: A selfie is appropriate for a fleeting moment. A portrait is appropriate for something that lasts.
JA: As the saying goes, "A picture is worth a thousand words." And I would say you probably have enough images to fill a novel's worth of words. What would the title of that novel be?
PJ: A Life Well Lived.
JA: What is the restaurant that you frequent the most?
PJ: Navy. It's right down the block from my apartment. I love it.
JA: You are a perrenial coffee drinker. Do you have a favorite coffee shop in NYC?
PJ: I have to say Gasoline Alley on Lafayette.
JA: Finally, what is your cocktail of choice?
PJ: Without question, a Manhattan.